May 31, 2018 at 3:02pm

Is there a min qualification in sg for teachers to start teaching piano? I hear different stories across. Some say gr 8, some say must have teacher cert. Is there such a thing called teacher cert?

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Susan Teo

If no cert, how to prove the teacher is qualified?

June 2, 2018 at 9:57pm
Goh Zensen

The short answer to your question is to interview, audition and examine the portfolio of the teacher-to-be. The latter includes his experience in the music industry, his works, etc. For me (and... See More

The short answer to your question is to interview, audition and examine the portfolio of the teacher-to-be. The latter includes his experience in the music industry, his works, etc. For me (and several others in the music education industry) will also observe a demo lesson by him to gauge pedagogical suitability. Many a time, these supersede the paper qualifications he possesses (if any).

Disciplines like medicine and engineering would definitely need certified credentials because we can't risk doctors prescribing the wrong medication leading to deaths; and neither can we risk living in buildings that might collapse anytime. But what is music? What is its inherent risk?

But if we are talking about teaching FOR THE SAKE of letting students go through the graded EXAMS, then of course his credentials would ONLY matter then.

June 4, 2018 at 8:49am
Susan Teo

But for many parents like me, I dunno music. So I can't interview them the way you can. I need something easier to measure with. Paper qualifications will be one consideration, of cos. Just... See More

But for many parents like me, I dunno music. So I can't interview them the way you can. I need something easier to measure with. Paper qualifications will be one consideration, of cos. Just wondering can any person who knows how to play the piano, and take some exams b4, just suddenly one day decides to teach, and can teach straight away?

June 18, 2018 at 2:10pm
Goh Zensen

If you are thinking of finding a piano teacher for your child, then you'd need consider your objective. If you want him/her to take the graded exams (for whatever purpose later in life is yet... See More

If you are thinking of finding a piano teacher for your child, then you'd need consider your objective. If you want him/her to take the graded exams (for whatever purpose later in life is yet another big topic by itself, which I shall skip for now) then your question is valid, which I will illustrate below. But if the objective is to let him/her appreciate music, learn it with joy and motivation and to be empowered to play music in a carefree way (without the exam stress) by ear and improvisation for whatever music he likes/listens to, then the paper qualifications of the teacher become highly irrelevant.

Let's assume it is the former. Teachers with a teaching licence at a govt school have gone through proper certification and training in pedagogy - explaining why a PhD in Maths may not teach as well as an A Level holder in Maths for a primary school maths syllabus, especially if the latter possess a teaching license (and not the former). In the music ed industry - the phenomenon is similar - my counterparts and I have seen several top notch musicians with superior qualifications but are unable to teach - yet those with lower qualifications can teach better (though their own musicianship isn't that strong).

Thus if you are considering between two piano teachers - one with a Diploma in Piano Performance and the other a Diploma in Piano Teaching, and OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, the latter is a better choice for your child.

June 20, 2018 at 2:59pm
February 8, 2018 at 11:37am

Can this be done - 3 months to train a person (with a little play by ear knowledge) to play jazz on a piano professionally? Yes. Ryan Gosling in La La Land. "And his performance was impeccable... 2nd day of shooting."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7szilgmvaeQ

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Mabel Ong

Omg!! Is this possible!?!? ?
How long have I taken?!! *ashamed*

February 10, 2018 at 3:35pm
Liew Soo Hin

But this will be a rote learning process, no?

February 12, 2018 at 1:06pm
Gavin Koh

Precisely. Ryan memorized a couple of pieces, then he put in some showmanship and pizzazz for the camera. So, would you rather memorize just a few pieces or learn everything about music theory? It... See More

Precisely. Ryan memorized a couple of pieces, then he put in some showmanship and pizzazz for the camera. So, would you rather memorize just a few pieces or learn everything about music theory? It depends on your ultimate goal. Both works just as well, but you just have to have the right aptitude and attitude.

February 12, 2018 at 1:35pm
November 10, 2017 at 5:13pm

How would one start off as a piano teacher? I am guessing the hardest bit would be to find yourself students who are willing to give you a try. How should one go about that? Or it would it better to join a school and work for them to get experience?

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Goh Zensen

Exactly. It thus takes a fundamental shift in societal values and perceptions, just like our government is taking pains to change parents' mindset on what defines "success" - it is no longer good... See More

Exactly. It thus takes a fundamental shift in societal values and perceptions, just like our government is taking pains to change parents' mindset on what defines "success" - it is no longer good grades entering top schools, then top universities, then becoming doctors or lawyers earning big bucks.

In some of my articles, I wrote about certifications being essential for doctors and engineers because we can't afford being prescribed wrong medication, or living in houses that might collapse anytime. But what is the inherent risk in music, which is largely about appreciation and enjoyment?

November 24, 2017 at 9:05am
Goh Zensen

I think I mentioned somewhere else that ABRSM is also applauded for having "moved with the times". Recognising that several seasoned practicing pop musicians would look absurd in making them go... See More

I think I mentioned somewhere else that ABRSM is also applauded for having "moved with the times". Recognising that several seasoned practicing pop musicians would look absurd in making them go through their graded exams, they now confer them with their credentials (bearing the ABRMS logo) in the form of open-ended certificates. That is, instead of showing Grade 8 or something, they pen a paragraph on their musicianship and mastery after witnessing their demonstration of skills.

November 24, 2017 at 9:10am
Goh Zensen

Soh Hin, did you know that in the past (just a few years ago), teachers who were graduates were placed on a higher salary scale (almost doubles that of non-graduates') but of late, even non-... See More

Soh Hin, did you know that in the past (just a few years ago), teachers who were graduates were placed on a higher salary scale (almost doubles that of non-graduates') but of late, even non-graduates can be placed on the graduate's scale directly?

There have also been several case studies whereby employers chose Polytechnic graduands over University graduates with straight As (over the same job position) because they found the former more creative, resilient and industrial-based while the latter was only exam-smart and theoretical?

Explaining now why govt schools in Singapore is taking a different slant - they no longer over-emphasize academic achievements but holistic development (many facets not measurable by tests).

November 24, 2017 at 9:17am
Goh Zensen

ABRSM certs thus are not stated as 'basic requirements'. In many cases, criteria mentioned are: "ABRSM Grade XXX OR equivalent credentials or field experiences, etc......" This is because they... See More

ABRSM certs thus are not stated as 'basic requirements'. In many cases, criteria mentioned are: "ABRSM Grade XXX OR equivalent credentials or field experiences, etc......" This is because they know that a large proportion of candidates with ABRSM graded certifications have been gotten because of drills and theoretical understanding of music. Many don't understand music per se, and neither can they apply music principles flexibly via improvisations, re-arrangements, etc.

November 24, 2017 at 9:21am
March 30, 2017 at 1:09pm

If only my piano teachers had explained to me the purpose of scales and arpeggios all those years when I was learning the piano, I believe I would have taken to them with greater enthusiasm. But somehow none ever did ! It was only after I stopped learning the piano that I realized how important they were as finger exercises . So a message for all piano teachers: Explain to your students what these exercises are for and I'm sure you'll have an easier time getting them to practise them :)

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Adelynn Khoo

I think it's important to work on having both hands equally strong. Corrine did point out the boring aspect of it, which often discourages the student. Hahaha, not easy being a piano teacher. I... See More

I think it's important to work on having both hands equally strong. Corrine did point out the boring aspect of it, which often discourages the student. Hahaha, not easy being a piano teacher. I wonder how a piano teacher can add it to the lesson plans without the kids screaming. ?

October 13, 2017 at 5:26pm
Carlyn Ng

How abt Czerny?

October 14, 2017 at 12:41pm
Chris Khoo

Oh absolutely . The school of velocity :)

October 14, 2017 at 12:53pm
Carlyn Ng

Haha.. yes.. ? and I'm guessing his Art of Finger Dexterity isn't popularly explored by many.

October 14, 2017 at 3:01pm
March 31, 2017 at 12:19pm

Of late, I've noticed that more and more piano teachers (whom I know personally) are not genuinely passionate about music or music education. They are just treating it as a job (for income purposes), and thus perceiving any musicking activity (e.g. jamming with friends) as an extension to their job (which they would want to avoid). Any thoughts about this?

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Corrine Ying

Agree with Albert. Full-time music teachers can't afford to sacrifice their source of income for leisure activities. Not taking part in these activities doesn't mean they are not genuinely... See More

Agree with Albert. Full-time music teachers can't afford to sacrifice their source of income for leisure activities. Not taking part in these activities doesn't mean they are not genuinely interested in music education.

That said, leisure/social music-making does have its place in my life. That's why I have shifted a student to make space for the Pianover's Meetup every Sunday evening. However, other students may not be so accommodating. We all know that piano lessons are usually held at night or on weekends, which is (unfortunately) also the time that leisure and social activities take place.

A teacher who cancels lessons because of jamming sessions would not only lose income, but also come across as lacking commitment towards the student.

March 31, 2017 at 2:10pm
Goh Zensen

Now I see, thanks for sharing! Anyway a spin-off from this discussion is whether one believes in investments (aka "wasting time to gain time in the future"). While Corrine is willing to "... See More

Now I see, thanks for sharing! Anyway a spin-off from this discussion is whether one believes in investments (aka "wasting time to gain time in the future"). While Corrine is willing to "sacrifice" a regular piano lesson slot for attending Pianovers Meetups, she is doing it because of her passion in music and believes in doing this as a form of leisure activity. However, to others, have they ever wondered, by attending Pianovers Meetups, it is actually an investment (though giving up a piano lesson) because through networking, etc., one can garner more piano teaching assignments in the long run? And also possibly learning from fellow piano tutors on how to teach certain aspects which are challenging?

March 31, 2017 at 8:34pm
Corrine Ying

Zensen, you do have a point there. Although I participate in Pianover Meetups primarily for leisure and personal growth, I do see it as a way of enhancing one's teaching as well. Thanks for the... See More

Zensen, you do have a point there. Although I participate in Pianover Meetups primarily for leisure and personal growth, I do see it as a way of enhancing one's teaching as well. Thanks for the insights!

March 31, 2017 at 9:54pm
Chris Khoo

Do piano teachers generally have a more "academic" mindset when it comes to music vs those who have a more "performance-oriented" mindset? Just a thought. (I really appreciate everything my piano... See More

Do piano teachers generally have a more "academic" mindset when it comes to music vs those who have a more "performance-oriented" mindset? Just a thought. (I really appreciate everything my piano teachers taught me. :)

March 31, 2017 at 10:12pm